OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Ocean of junk focus of presentation, panel discussion in Newport

04/10/2009

NEWPORT, Ore. – Parts of the Pacific Ocean are beginning to resemble a landfill and the increasing accumulation of debris – mainly plastic – is the focus of a special presentation on Monday, April 27, at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

Two environmental activists from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in California will visit the center as part of their 2,000-mile bicycle tour from British Columbia to Mexico to raise awareness about what some are calling the “North Pacific Garbage Patch.”

Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins will speak, present photos and participate in a panel discussion with OSU researchers and community leaders. The presentation runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Hennings Auditorium at the center, and is free and open to the public.

Eriksen and Cummins are perhaps best known for their project to build JUNK, a raft made from 15,000 bottles, which sailed to Hawaii last summer. The Algalita Marine Research Foundation has been studying the accumulation of plastic debris in the ocean and its 2008 survey concluded that the density of plastics in the ocean has doubled in the past 10 years.

The group also found evidence that lantern fish – which are common prey for tuna, salmon and groundfish – are ingesting plastic.

Others participating in the panel discussion include Kim Raum-Suryan, a faculty research assistant with OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute; Gretchen Ammerman, of the North Lincoln Waste District; and Jeff Feldner, a former commercial fisherman now working for Oregon Sea Grant. Other panelists may be added.

The event is sponsored by the Newport chapter of Surfrider Foundation, Friends of the Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon Sea Grant, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and CoastWatch.

More information on the JunkRaft project is available at: http://junkraft.com/home.html